The Federal Circuit’s opinion in In re Cuozzo Speed Technologies, LLC., 2014-1301 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 4, 2015) is the court’s first review of a Final Written Decision from an Inter Partes Review (IPR). 

Takeaway: The Federal Circuit held that there cannot be a review or an appeal of a decision to institute an IPR absent circumstances showing that the USPTO “clearly and indisputably exceeded its authority.” The court also affirmed the PTAB’s use of the USPTO’s broadest reasonable interpretation claim construction standard to construing claims in an IPR. The court found that the America Invents Act (AIA) was absent of any intention to depart from the broadest reasonable interpretation claim construction standard used by the USPTO holding, “it can therefore be inferred that Congress impliedly adopted the existing rule of adopting the broadest reasonable construction.”

Cuozzo Speed Technologies LLC argued that its patent (U.S. Patent No. 6,778,074) should not have been found obvious during a previously instituted IPR (IPR2012-00001), and also argued that the PTAB erred in construing the patent’s claims by using the broadest reasonable interpretation standard. Cuozzo’s patent relates to a vehicle navigation system display. The court found that 35 U.S.C. 314(d) prohibits review of the PTAB’s decision to institute an IPR even after a Final Written Decision. The court also held that the broadest reasonable interpretation is the proper standard for IPRs given patentee’s right to amend claims during the proceeding.  In addition, the court affirmed the PTAB’s finding that claims 10, 14, and 17 of the patent are invalid because they are obvious in view of the cited art.

Judge Newman provided a vigorous dissent, noting that the majority’s decision was “contrary to the purpose of the AIA,” and that the majority decision failed to implement the AIA’s statutory purpose of providing cost-effective alternatives to litigation. In her dissent, Judge Newman indicated that she would have required the PTAB to use the same standard for clam construction as the U.S. District Courts, and that it was necessary for IPRs to serve as reliable substitutes to district court proceedings.